03 January 2011

Yes, Virginia, there are Marxist Feminists

On Hugo Schwyzer's always MRA-ridden blog, I've gotten involved in a discussion that has really gotten me thinking about the connections between my feminism and my marxism. Naturally, I know that women are commodified the better to be objectified, and I'm familiar with Woman as the general equivalent through which men conduct their relationships with each other. But I haven't recently thought very much about how much feminism and marxism are in dialogue.

(Also, the whole conversation is depressingly heterocentric, so I've added in [straight] and [queer] tags where necessary to fix that.)

It all started with this comment, by someone called A Mind Forever Voyaging:
I have to ask. What is really the problem? I have read quite a lot of feminist opinions on dating and the meat market, and it seems no matter how left-wing the author is there is one consistent theme that keeps reappearing when discussing dating. The meat market is and should be the randian utopia. If [straight] man fails to attract [straight] woman it is his own fault and he has only himself to blame. [Straight] Man gets exactly the [straight] female company he deserves.
I responded:
...in no way do feminists seek to make human relations a market economy. Feminism is entirely opposed to the commodification of human beings — female or male. Feminism problematizes the fact that what we have now is a vision of human relations that is predicated on exchange. That model leads to rape, manipulative “sugar babies,” miserable “beta-males,” and impoverishes human experience all around.
However, A Mind Forever Voyaging sees things differently, and basically repeated hir original post, reiterating the idea that if [straight and queer] women are allowed to choose their mates (an obviously feminist position) then the "unregulated meat market" is the only way for the feminist goal of free choice and enthusiastic consent to be achieved.

Of course, this is an illogical if/then formulation. I am perfectly capable of being against both the "unregulated meat market" (which is, of course, actually heavily regulated by patriarchy) and against the idea that women [queer and straight] owe [straight] men sex and relationships.

If I had my way, then instead of a "Randian system" in which [straight] men are rejected on the basis of their lack of wealth, lack of conventional attractiveness, and lack of status, [straight] men would be rejected based on their refusal to see women [queer and straight] as fully human, their entitled attitude towards [all] women's bodies, and their racism/sexism/classism/ableism/etc.

Rather than a system that is predicated on exchange, in which [straight] men who have the most "buying power" get the most [straight] girls (a capitalist system if there ever was one!), we would have a system in which the only [straight] men who were without their desired female companionship would be the misogynist assholes who refuse to let go of patriarchy and all that that system entails.

Let's move from a system that values people based on economies of exchange to a system in which people are valued based on their basic humanity, and their respect for the humanity of others!

Humans of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains.